MANILA — A union of education workers urged the government on Thursday to address the "the serious welfare issues of public school teachers" as schools continue to implement distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) made the call after it released the results of its online survey, which showed that more than 70 percent of respondents believe that the current distance-learning setup has badly affected their physical and mental health.
"Being the backbone of education delivery, the labor situation of public school teachers must be swiftly attended to and be given due consideration in the plans for the opening of the new school year," ACT said in a statement.
ACT said it conducted the survey from March 29 to April 11, with 6,731 public school teachers serving as respondents. Of the figure, 5,303 of the teachers are from the National Capital Region (NCR) while 1,428 came from other regions.
The survey results showed that 76% of NCR teachers and 75% of teachers in the regions believe that distance learning has "negative impacts" to their physical health.
According to the survey, 71% of NCR teachers and 70% from outside the capital said "distance learning duties are impacting negatively on their mental health."
Forty-one percent of teachers in Metro Manila also said they "work for longer than 8 hours on days that there are classes." In the regions, 29 percent said they "work for 9 hours and more on class days."
The survey also showed that only 4 percent (NCR) to 6 percent (other regions) of teachers use laptops provided by the Department of Education.
Around 69 percent of teachers in Metro Manila and 77 percent outside the capital use personally acquired laptops, based on the survey.
It also showed that 4 to 6 percent of teachers "have no laptop to use for their distance learning duties" halfway into the school year.
READ THE FULL SURVEY:
ACT said there was also a "dismal implementation of the DepEd order to release a monthly P300 communication expense reimbursement to teachers" from March to December 2020.
Fifty-eight percent of the respondents outside Metro Manila and 12 percent inside the NCR said the order "is not implemented at all in their schools."
Only 10 percent in the NCR and 1 percent in other regions were reimbursed the highest allowable reimbursement amount of up to P3,000.
"Most teachers who have received partial payments of the reimbursements have only gotten a total of P600 or lower," ACT said.
The group also said the survey "revealed the reality of teachers being compelled to work outside of their homes, especially in regions outside Metro Manila, despite DepEd’s alternative work arrangement order."
In other regions, 58 percent of the respondents "come to schools 3 times or more per week while 24 percent report to schools once or twice a week."
In virus epicenter Metro Manila, 29 percent of the teachers are "made to report to school once or twice every week" while 5 percent "come to schools 3 times [or] more in a week."